Well Said: Kristin Hahn, Hollywood Producer and Writer

Well Said: Kristin Hahn, Hollywood Producer and Writer

Editor’s note: This interview and photo shoot were conducted many weeks ago—before the coronavirus pandemic forced North Americans to practise social distancing and self-isolation. We have chosen to move forward with publishing this piece because we believe that self-care is more important than ever, as is our desire to help our readers find inspiration and escape.

Kristin Hahn is a self-professed “recovering workaholic.” She’s a writer and producer in Hollywood: a notoriously tough job in a notoriously unforgiving industry that expects people to be available around the clock, to always be at full speed, and to look good without having to actually take care of themselves. But one day, Hahn had enough.

“I had worked myself into the ground,” she recalls. “I realized I had given all my love, energy, and time to the outside world, but I had not taken care of my own home. My house looked kind of like a dorm room. I’d collected this table from when I was 20 and that random chair at a garage sale 10 years ago. I just started looking around and realized that I needed to re-engineer my life and the way I was approaching my balance between life and work and myself.”

Kristin Hahn by Morgan Pansing

Now her lifestyle tells a different story. “There’s a consuming quality of Hollywood, and the machine that it is, that will literally swallow you whole if you let it,” she says. “So it’s up to you as an individual to love yourself enough to say, ‘No, these are my boundaries, this is how much time you can have of mine, and this is when you can have the time.’” She’s still working extremely hard in film and TV—in fact, when she greets this author at the door she admits to currently being in the process of writing three movies and producing a television show—but she also makes time for herself, for her family, for her friends.

Hahn’s resume is robust, with producing credits on films including The Departed, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Cake, as well as on television shows including Apple TV’s runaway hit The Morning Show, which happens to star her friend and producing partner Jennifer Aniston. Hahn also writes many film and television stories herself, most notably the Netflix feel-good movie Dumplin’. Between her own production company called Hahnscape Entertainment and the one she runs with Aniston called Echo Films, Hahn is kept extremely busy, to say the least; but among the glitter and sheen of Hollywood, she’s very real, honest, and down to earth, continuing to focus on her own well being above all else. Here’s how she takes care of herself.

On meaningful home decor

“I started drawing this tree on a piece of paper. It was kind of like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters when he starts making the mashed potato mountain. I just became obsessed with this tree in my mind and then I met an artist one day, I was out at an art exhibit and was like, ‘Could you make a tree if I gave you a drawing?’ He was a sculptor and he said sure. So I gave him one of my drawings. It’s like a puzzle; it comes apart so we can take it with us. It’s bolted to the ground and we as a family use this for holidays or passages. Then I started painting and buying furniture that actually matched, or didn’t because I wanted it to not match, but actually conspicuously started putting love and attention into this home. And that was the beginning of a new way of living for me.”

Kristin Hahn by Morgan Pansing

On rest

“I sleep seven hours solid. No more, ‘Oh, I’ll just get by on four.’ I did that for years. I’m so much healthier and better and better at my job when I actually sleep.”

On meditation

“I meditate first thing in the morning before I touch my phone. I get up and meditate for 20 minutes. I do transcendental meditation: it’s a simple mantra-based meditation, which means in your mind you say one word on the breath in and out. And eventually you start to let go of it so there’s nothing, just the breath.

Also in the morning I really ground myself in some very fundamental things for me like gratitude and never taking this life or what I get to do for granted—because I love what I do, and I never want to lose that passion and that tingly feeling that you can lose over time when you get used to something. So in the morning I look at that time as not just meditation and getting balanced and peaceful in my mind and body, but also visualizing what I’m focusing on for the day, and anyone I want to pray for or put good thoughts around. And just being grateful, which I think is maybe the best antidote to everything that ails us.”

On food

“I do take care of my body because I work it hard every day. So I try to eat well, and I’m doing this intermittent fasting thing. I love it, it works for me. I start eating at 11 or 11:30 and stop eating at 6:30 or 7. Some days I’ll break it and it’s no big deal. But that window works for my body for whatever reason. So I try to eat as well as I can, I try not to put junk into my body just because I’m requiring so much of it right now. And I’ve done it the other way, I lived on sets for years where eating M&Ms for lunch is a common thing. I’ve done it a million times, but it just makes me feel like crap and I know it. Even though I love M&Ms.

I’m vegetarian. I make a lot of beans and Mexican food, a lot of Asian-based recipes, a lot of alternative proteins. And I do a daily smoothie, a very specific recipe that’s very high in protein. I’ve given the recipe to a ton of people [editor’s note: find the recipe below this interview] who ask me for it because they’re like, ‘Why do you have all this energy?’ And I think it has a lot to do with that smoothie. It came from an acupuncturist that I know named Chandra Scofield.

I also take supplements and have a regime now where I make sure my body has the actual nutrients and minerals and vitamins that it needs—obviously through food, but I also test my blood and see: what am I low on? I do my blood every six months.”

On friendships

“I have amazing girlfriends. And there’s a fascinating amount of research out now about the amazing physical health benefits of female friendship and communal experiences. It’s such a beautiful part of my life that I have this group of friends that I appreciate more every year, because we now have so much history together and we’ve gone through so much. We’ve grown so much together. We’ve allowed each other to really see authentically, truly who we are and be exposed in that way, and love each other through it and realize we’ve done a lot of emotional work together. We’ve mothered each other in a lot of ways.

We do a lot of ritual together. We do circling. My friend Dréa [Andréa Bendewald] who’s on The Morning Show—she plays Jen’s character’s makeup artist—her other main job in life is facilitating circles. We’ve been doing it for 30 years.”

Kristin Hahn by Morgan Pansing

On music

“I have very diverse musical tastes. I love Chance the Rapper; there’s a whole list of rappers that I love. But I could go country, too; I could listen to Dolly Parton all day. I’m very lucky: I have two kids who listen to a lot of music, and I’m always like, ‘What’s that?’ And they say, ‘Mom, you’re too old for that,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I’m not, not at all.’

When I was writing today I was listening to Harry Styles. I listened to the whole album, I think, twice; I had it on a loop.”

On scent

“I’m so excited about my diffuser. Scent is so important, the way music is important to me. I use essential oils and it’s amazing how the right scent just rubbed between your hands and inhaling it can literally change your mind, change your internal point of view, and feel like a spa treatment. It’s crazy. Sometimes that’ll happen where I’m not in a good place or too much is going on and I’ll just stop and breathe with some kind of essential oil and be like, ‘Okay, this is fine, I can do this.’”

On choosing the right project

“The characters that I’ve chosen to write have embodied themes that are meaningful to me. Like Stargirl [a movie Hahn wrote that released on March 13, 2020] is about a 15-year-old girl, but we’ve all got a 15-year-old girl inside of us still. That heart is beating. It’s about a 15-year-old girl going through a journey of authenticity, and I’ve been going through that journey my whole life. I was thinking about it today and how being authentic at this point in my life is actually one of my greatest gifts of self-care, and it’s something Stargirl as a character knows at the age of 15. I wish I had known that at 15. That notion of being transparent about who you are and what you think so people aren’t wondering is a very loving way to be; I think it’s incredibly self-loving as well as compassionate for others. It takes a lot of work to get to the place where you can actually be authentically who you are in all areas of your life, because our culture perpetuates this idea of persona and perfectionism, particularly for women. So it takes time, and it definitely has taken my generation time to break out of that to be able to be authentically who we are without weakness or anger, but just clarity. And so that’s a gift I give myself every day at this point. I don’t play a role for anyone anymore.

And with Dumplin’, I just love the story so much and I love those characters. They make me laugh and cry. I cried a lot writing that movie. I healed a lot; I fought so hard for that job because I knew I had to write it. I had so much to heal in myself in writing that movie. And I wanted to tell that story for girls so badly. I really, really believe in the healing power of storytelling. That’s why I do what I do. I believe stories can change lives and save lives, actually. People in our business love to say, ‘We’re not curing cancer,’ and sometimes I say out loud, ‘Speak for yourself.’ Because even though we’re not curing cancer, we are curing other emotional ailments, and I do think that our physical ailments are connected to our emotional ailments. And as storytellers, we are working on those. So I take the job really seriously. It means a lot to me to be able to tell stories.”

Smoothie recipe

In a blender, add:

  • 1 teaspoon powdered chlorella 
  • 1 teaspoon maca root powder 
  • 2 tablespoons pea protein powder
  • E3Live BrainOn (find it at health food stores in the frozen section; it comes in individual packets)
  • About a cup of almond or oat milk (or other preferred nut milk)
  • Splash of juice (I like grapefruit juice)
  • Handful of nuts (I use a combination of Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds)
  • 1/4 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • If you eat dairy, you can add 1/2 cup of plain organic yogurt
  • Lots of ice (if your blender is struggling, add some water)

This interview has been edited and condensed.